Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Charlie Simpson, Sam Coghlan-Murray, Peter Nelson, Daniel Qualter 2, Stephen MacAuley; Cons: Paddy Jackson; Pen: Paddy Jackson
Italy: Pen: Keanu Apperley

From the outset, the dash of scrum half Luke McGrath mesmerised the Italian defence. A quick exchange in tight space gave winger Sam Coghlan-Murray the chance to stretch to the line for the opening try in the second minute.

Within minutes, openside flanker Aaron Conneely pounced on a ball that squirted out of an Italian scrum. This forced a penalty which was sent straight and true by out-half Paddy Jackson for an 8-0 lead.

Ireland full-back Charlie Simpson slipped the tackle of his opposite number Michele Corso for another five-pointer, following brisk continuity work from the forwards with team captain Niall Scannell making the vital thrust.

Then, Simpson and McGrath produced two delicious side-door passes to leave centre Peter Nelson to coast home. Jackson added the conversion.

The Italian front row were playing to their traditional strengths in the scrum. It gave them a basis for slowing the game down to their pace.

But Terry McMaster’s Irish side made precious few mistakes until an indiscretion at a ruck allowed out-half Keanu Apperley smack over the three points.

It was a temporary respite as Scannell barged beyond the gain line for the back-line to smoothly manufacture a one-on-one for right winger Stephen MacAuley, who sped outside Corso for the fourth touchdown in 20 minutes.

Simpson’s gliding outside break was too much for the cover as the first half came to a close at 32-3.

The second-half got underway with Coghlan-Murray showing the gas to latch onto a hacked kick to race over by the posts with Jackson posting the simple extras.

Replacement Eoghan Cross was hauled down from behind by centre Giulio Bisegni only for Nelson to pick and drive for the whitewash. Jackson made it 46-3 from the conversion.

From then, a host of changes on both sides meant Ireland had to withstand a barrage of drives and mauls from the Italian eight.

Then, a sweet pass from replacement Ritchie McMaster sent Cross steaming through the middle. Openside Conneely was on his shoulder to provide the link to number 8 Daniel Qualter for the eighth try, converted by Jackson.

Another replacement Ross Jones rolled out of defence to set up a slick series of passes at close quarters for Qualter to become the fourth player to register a brace of tries, and end a pleasing day’s work for the Schools outfit. 

IRELAND U-18 SCHOOLS: Charlie Simpson (Ballymena Academy); Stephen MacAuley (Clongowes Wood College), Peter Nelson (Royal School Dungannon), JJ Hanrahan (Rockwell College), Sam Coghlan-Murray (Newbridge College); Paddy Jackson (Methodist College Belfast), Luke McGrath (St. Michael’s College); Des Merrey (King’s Hospital), Niall Scannell (PBC Cork) (capt), Peter Reilly (Castleknock College), Shane Buckley (Rockwell College), Yasin Browne (CBC Cork), Adam Clarkin (Terenure College), Aaron Conneely (Colaiste Iognaid), Daniel Qualter (Sligo Grammar School).

Replacements used: Rory Harrison (Methodist College Belfast) for Merrey, Kyle McCall (Wallace High School) for Reilly, Eoghan Cross (Crescent Community College) for Clarkin (all 48 mins), James Rael (Castletroy Community College) for Scannell, Harry Doyle (Royal School Armagh) for McGrath, Ritchie McMaster (Coleraine Academical Institution) for Hanrahan, Ross Jones (Castleknock College) for Simpson (all 57).

ITALY U-18: M Corso; A Morsellino, G Bisegni, M Campagnaro, D Trotta; K Apperley, D Farolini; F Giuriatti, G Maistri, A Brandolini, L Mammana, G Grassotti, G Vian, F Conforti (capt), R Riccioli.

Replacements used: A Gemin for Corso (24 mins), G Scali for Giuriatti (39), A Tacoluca for Morsellino, M Maran for Mammana, R Masso al Talaal for Maistri (all 52), A Tacoluca for Farolini (55), A Lofrese for Riccioli (62).

Referee: Colin Stanley (IRFU)


Gallery: HT minis – Ballinrobe, Ballyhaunis, Corinthians and Dunmore